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10 Shocking Stats About Teens and Pornography (2023)

Last Updated: May 18, 2023

Matt Fradd
Matt Fradd

Matt Fradd is the author of Delivered: True Stories of Men and Woman Who Turned from Porn to Purity. After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt has worked through full-time lay ministry in Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Texas. He has served as an apologist for Catholic Answers and has traveled all over the world, speaking to tens of thousands of teens and young adults. He and his wife Cameron have four children and live in North Georgia.

What is pornography like for today’s teenagers? This is the first generation to grow up in a world where smartphones and high-speed internet have always existed. According to recent studies, 95% of teens now have access to a portable X-rated theater—i.e. a smartphone.1 The rise of smartphones has correlated closely with increased porn consumption among younger generations. It’s easier to access than ever, with more variety, and more social acceptability.

In our research, we’ve examined some of the most important—and shocking—research on teens and porn.

Do teens watch porn?

It’s become increasingly normal for teens to watch porn. No matter how you slice it, teens watch a startling amount of porn. According to one study:

  • Just 55% of adults 25 and older believe porn is wrong.
  • Only 44% of porn users believe someone being depicted in a demeaning way is always wrong.
  • Only 43% of teens believe porn is bad for society.

What teens consider to be pornographic has also changed drastically. For an increasing number of teens, sexual imagery—even graphic nudity—is not porn unless it depicts intercourse.

Interestingly, researchers also found that nearly half of teens (45%) feel addicted to their devices, and just over half (52%) have taken some steps to cut back or limit their use.2 Studies suggest that watching pornography is one of the most addicting things you can do on your devices. So then, we shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that teens watch porn—lots of it.

New research conducted in 2022 also found that many teens are unintentionally exposed to porn. According to Common Sense Media, 58% of teens had stumbled across porn accidentally. Of that 58%, almost two thirds reported that they’d been exposed within the past week.3

What percent of teens watch porn?

Here are ten of the most alarming statistics about teens and pornography:

  • 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18.
  • 90% of teens and 96% of young adults are either encouraging, accepting, or neutral when they talk about porn with their friends.
  • The first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old, on average.
  • 83% of boys and 57% of girls are exposed to group sex online.
  • 32% of boys and 18% of girls are exposed to bestiality online.
  • 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography online.
  • 71% of teens have done something to hide their online activity from their parents.
  • 28% of 16-17-year-olds have unintentionally been exposed to pornography online.
  • 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds have received a sext.
  • 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online.

(Get all the references for these by downloading our complete packet of pornography statistics.)

Is porn bad for teens?

Some may question whether we should be alarmed about the number of teens using pornography. After all, isn’t it a relatively harmless way to explore their sexuality? No—porn is a harmful and unnatural way to learn about sex and may hinder real relationships from developing normally.

Many psychologists, even those who don’t have a moral axe to grind with porn, are concerned about the kind of sexual education porn is giving kids and how it is harming their brains. Furthermore, ample evidence shows that porn is bad for teens in many ways:

  • Porn creates unrealistic expectations about sex.
  • Porn trains misogynistic thinking.
  • Porn desensitizes people to sexual violence.
  • In some cases, porn can lead to sexual dysfunction.

(For more, see 4 Ways Porn Warps the Male Brain).

As parents, we have to prepare our kids for our sexualized culture and pornography specifically. If we don’t prepare them, who will?


1 Hermina Drah, “30 Surprising Cell Phone Addiction Statistics for 2022,” disturbmenot!, January 15, 2022. Accessed January 5, 2023 at https://disturbmenot.co/cell-phone-addiction-statistics/#:~:text=95%25%20of%20teens%20have%20access%20to%20a%20smartphone.&text=According%20to%20a%20Pew%20Research,by%20two%2Dthirds%20of%20parents.

2 ibid.

3 James Steyer, “A Letter From Our Founder,” in Michael Robb and Supreet Mann, 2022 Teens and Pornography, (Common Sense Media, 2022).

  • Comments on: 10 Shocking Stats About Teens and Pornography (2023)
    1. Jocelyn Sophia Ghazzawi

      What can we do to get all the pornography off of the internet???? What can we do to make it illegal to make a pornographic movie and to take pornographic photos? In my estimation, any photo or film of two or more naked people with their private parts exposed is pornography. If a photo or film is just of one person naked with their private parts exposed, that is also pornography to me, but it is different. I really would not mind random visits from police to our home to check our phones for self took porno photos and films, for I know that I and my family do not take such things. If people knew that they could expect such a visit from the police, I hope that they would not make “sex tapes” and photos of people naked. I really do not think that I am being unreasonable. People need to clean up their acts, for what they are doing angers GOD and if they do not clean up their acts, they must face the punishment from GOD for such sinfulness. Taking movies of one’s own sex acts is far from the beautiful example that Jesus showed us. It is really a choice and I choose to not get such equipment and be involved in such things at all. I thank and praise GOD.

      • Jake

        So you want random visits to your home by the police to monitor porn? So you want a police state? A morality police? If you don’t want to look at porn it is simple, don’t look at it.

        By the way, if it ever happened the way you want, everyone in America would be in prison. I guess that is what you want. A world where only the pure exist.

      • YeetAHoe420

        I don’t understand why porn is so bad, if you don’t like it then don’t watch it I,m a huge a atheist and i really don’t see whats so harmful about porn.

    2. Why are you surprised?

      Teenagers kill, rape, rob, assault, commit domestic violence, drink, drug, have sex, have sex with adults, lie, and cheat. None of these things are the actions of “children.” America is major denial about its teens and collectively we cling to this notion of a Beaver Cleaver lifestyle that has never really existed. In short, Americans, as always, lie to themselves.

      Absolutely none of these statistics should come as a surprise and in fact, I am willing to venture they are understated. WASP attitudes on sex created this mess in America. Whatever you suppress will always come back with a vengeance. Plus, people seem to want to fight biology and I hate to tell you — biology will win out most the time. For most of recorded history, the age of consent was very low. Anyone can research this quite easily. It is only recently that society determined that magically, at the age of 18, a person was an adult. The reality is that from the early teen years a person is attracted to the opposite sex and interested in sex. We make sex out to be more than it is in this country. Having sex is not some complex thought process. Religious people want to make it out to be one, but biology says otherwise. The religious want to make it out to be some epic battle between good and evil. Right or wrong. Morality or non-morality. The reality, however, is that two people are simply attracted to each other and want to have sex and then have it. The odd thing is that religious ignore the bible when talking about sex. Most people in biblical times were married by the age of 13.

      Bottom line is that you teenagers are not children. The only way you change their behaviors is you hold them accountable. No more of this nonsense that they cannot consent or choose because it is obvious they are consenting and choosing. Just this week there was a news story in a town nearby about 10 teenage girls ranging from 13-18 lying about a 19 year old boy raping someone because those girls wanted to mimic the movie “John Tucker Must Die.” That ladies and gentlemen is the level to which your teenagers are not children anymore. I also think we need to hold our girls more accountable because the reality is they are just like boys and watch just as much porn. Girls just play the innocent routine better. The entire porn issue is male centric. Men are evil. Women are innocent. This leads to only dealing with one side of the equation, which of course, will never solve anything.

      People need to get realistic about sexuality. However, from what I can see, we are still doing the same old things we did before. We want to hide it from our kids. Make it taboo. Heck, we want to ban everything which is akin to how we used to burn books to get rid of things we thought were morally unacceptable. Instead of just dealing with it we resort to the same tactics that got us in this mess in the first place.

      • I’m glad these stats don’t shock you. Obviously, you aren’t the target audience of the article. :)

      • Jake

        You are right. People are in denial about reality in America. In America, seeing a naked woman is evil but watching a movie with people getting killed is just fine. It is hypocrisy. Here is the reality with porn. If you don’t want to watch it, then don’t watch it. It is that simple. If I am going to hell for looking at porn, when we fight all these useless wars on terror then there is something wrong with all of this.

      • Tracey

        It has nothing to do with sexual instinct. Yes, we were born with sexual instinct when we go through puberty, but if people just acted on their natural impulses and didn’t Bridal their passions, we would have a world of chaos with more broken homes more one parent homes, more children without parents, more abortion, and more heart ache all around. Each child deserves to have a mother in thought

        Bridal their passions, we would have a world of chaos with more broken homes more one parent homes, more children without parents, more abortion, and more Hardik all around. Each child deserves to have a mother hand of the father, who nurture and love and raise them. This will never happen with your attitude about having an impulse and acting on it every time

      • Leslie

        So, basically, kids aren’t really kids, ever. Do you have children? Are you saying that we are born little hedonistic beings? That we can’t be stopped from doing harmful activities because we are just naturally hedonistic? These numbers should shock you. Child pornography? Beastiality? Group sex? Unrealistic sexual exploitations between couples of any gender?
        If those aberrations don’t shock you, I hope that deep down you are disappointed, at the very least. A moral compass is in everyone.
        These people performing for the multitudes are someone’s sisters and brothers, sons or daughters or parents. It’s fed by a new wave of immorality that did not exist before the streaming technology. This has not been going on forever and it was not like this years ago. Our societal norms have moved to this from a better mindset.

      • Kising

        About your comment on the bible, the reason they we’re getting married at the age of 13 was because they had shorter lifespans and it was the social norm. Now a days people get married at the age of 35 to the older generations this seems old . It just depends on where you were in history.

    3. Tracey

      Please correct typos😂

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